Liverpool 2-1 Brighton: Three talking points

 

Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool celebrating the victory with the fans at the end of the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Anfield on March 31, 2024 in Liverpool, England.

Liverpool edged out Brighton to return to the Premier League’s summit.

The visitors took a surprise lead after just two minutes as Danny Welbeck unleashed a powerful drive to beat Caoimhin Kelleher from outside the area.


But Jurgen Klopp’s side pulled level later in the opening 45 minutes when Luis Diaz pounced to drill home a close-range volley following a recycled corner.


Mohamed Salah handed the Reds the upper hand midway through the second half after he was teed up for a simple finish by Alexis Mac Allister.


A goalless draw between fellow title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal later on Sunday leaves Liverpool two points clear with nine games remaining.


Here were the key talking points from Anfield:


Reds ride the storm to top spot

Recent history attests that playing first on defining spring afternoons in the Premier League title race has not always worked to Liverpool’s advantage.


In 2014, with the finish line in sight, Brendan Rodgers’ charges failed to take advantage of Manchester City’s staggered start as they entertained Chelsea.


No Kopite needs to be reminded of what happened that day but it could easily have happened again during this Easter Sunday encounter with Brighton.


A sluggish start leading to an early goal conceded risked the Reds losing ground to their title rivals even before a ball was kicked at the Etihad Stadium.


Jurgen Klopp, however, was never likely to leave anything to chance despite the prospect of City and Arsenal eking out a stalemate coming to fruition.


His side had to weather the storm against the Seagulls, whose manager’s audition to potentially succeed the German failed to go according to plan.


Rarely this season have Liverpool had to grind out a result at home in such fashion, as the stadium-wide nerves in six minutes of added time underlined.


But if the title does return to Anfield in May, this will be a seminal moment.


Salah unearths a new prey

Mohamed Salah has made a habit out of toying with a familiar prey.


Opposing defenders dread the sight of the Egypt international bearing down on goal or teeing up an attacking cohort to strike a blow to their backline.


Brighton are finally discovering the torment which Liverpool’s effervescent talisman previously reserved exclusively for arch-rivals Manchester United.


But the Old Trafford nemesis has been usurped by their South Coast counterparts with Salah’s 15th goal involvement from 14 appearances.


Beyond his second-half winner, sweetly struck in front of a rapturous Kop end, the 31-year-old also racked up a record-equalling Premire League feat.


Only ex-United marksman Zlatan Ibrahimovic has preivously mustered 12 attempts against a single opponent in a top-flight fixture since records began.


It took a while for Salah’s persistence to translate into potency, with his early knockings failing to translate into firing testing efforts Bart Verbruggen’s way.


Once in the swing of things, there was only likely to ever be one outcome.


De Zerbi flunks Anfield audition

The battle to succeed Klopp was downgraded to a two-horse race following Xabi Alonso’s announcement that he will be staying with Bayer Leverkusen.


For Roberto De Zerbi, the timing could not have been better with his side travelling to Anfield just 48 hours after the former playmaker’s declaration.


Laying down a marker for his candidacy was crucial for the Italian, especially as supporters remain divided over whether he would be a good appointment.


They are similarly conflicted on Sporting Lisbon head coach Ruben Amorim, his current rival for the post, and may be slightly more minded after this game.


De Zerbi set his side up well enough by targeting the hosts’ full-back berths and reaped an early reward through Danny Welbeck’s second-minute opener.


Once Liverpool rose from their slumber, though, Brighton failed to test them further and were restricted to a smattering of largely fruitless counterattacks.


Klopp’s first victory over De Zerbi at a fifth time of asking is unlikely to sway the data-driven process which will unearth his successor in the summer.


In that respect, his opposite number is fortunate after flunking this audition.

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